It remains on ongoing issue that I take up with clients. For that reason it’s time to put pen to paper. What is PCGS? How is it different from ANDA grading? What is ANDA adjectival grading? Why is there conflict between the two systems? Let’s start (I’ll update this blog post over the coming weeks as time permits).

Understanding PCGS grading

A solid base of understanding comes from Peter Andrew’s dated but excellent foray into the world of PCGS grading. Do take the time to read it and bookmark it for future reference. This post is getting hard to track down on the internet:

The latest conversation on this subject of grading came from a client, to who I commented that a particular Edward half sovereign came back AU58 (just short of mint condition), rather than MS62 as I was expecting. Without delving too deep into the grading practices of PCGS (see link above) it’s generally understood that the obverse has a big input into the grading decision. Edwards are – in my experience – trickier to get right than say, young head Victoria. I’ll post a lineup of Victorian half sovereign obverses shortly to show you what I mean. It’s all in the hair.

Comparing with ANDA grading

Let’s start with a couple of articles from Kathryn and Mark of Purple Penny. I wish to provide a multitude of experienced voices in numismatics, as opposed to selling you my version of the story:

My Own Personal Experience Dealing with an ANDA Collector

I will take the time to reread these two articles for my own benefit and ongoing learning as I am forever a student of numismatics, making no pretense to expertise. ANDA also has a grading chart publication in PDF format.  However, the contribution I will make can be found in the following graphic. It was a large purchase from a long time collector at a time I was still relatively new to grading my own coins. It involved a significant amount of money, which is probably the best impetus for better learning!

The seller had assured me that he had graded the coins in both ANDA with a PCGS equivalent. That PCGS grade provided by the seller is listed under the ANDA heading below. Prior to sending to PCGS I take the time to grade the coins so as to have solid feedback on my grading hits and misses. I have the grades written on each manifest I send to Eric Eigner of Drakesterling for grading with PCGS. My grades are listed under the ME heading. Finally, PCGS returned the coins with their grade.

Getting Closer to PCGS “Reality”

I colour coded the final grades to illustrate my proximity to PCGS grades. 74% of the coins were graded in the ballpark figure given. 13% were a little off the mark and another 13% significantly off the mark. I’d like to think I’ve improved my grading standards since this episode almost two years ago. However, the ANDA collector had some 30 to 40 years experience in collecting Australian pre-decimal coins. His grading looks more like statistical noise than anything else, with only one coin (strangely an EF equivalent 55 in the Sheldon grading system) being correctly graded. Speaking of the Sheldon grading system, let’s add the PCGS link to their successful numerical grading system:


It’s a very brief overview, but between the authors and links I’ve provided here, a collector dedicated to improving their own grading skills has plenty of material to work with. I’ll update and improve with images illustrating metal wear, strike and other inputs in the future.


Les, Top End Coins